Archive for the ‘gospel’ Category

Clarification Please?

Lately I have been going back and forth with some folks on another blog which is known for it’s anti SBC stand (although it’s author is a SBC pastor) concerning just what is the nature of the gospel. There are some commenting on that blog that one can be a Mormon or Jehovahs Witness and still be a Christian. One poster stated that the only thing that really matters is love and that is the subjective actions of love towards others that saves us daily. My answer to this and other extra biblical claims…HOGWASH! Did I make that clear enough…if not let me say it again but this time a little clearer…H O G W A S H !

But equally concerning are the comments of those who believe that our salvation is either earned or perhaps actually validated by our actions and works. What this shows us is that there needs to be a clarification of the gospel in todays church. I am glad that the church in which I serve is very clear about this. We believe that salvation comes when we place our faith in Christ alone trusting Him alone for our forgiveness. There is no other name in which we can be saved and our salvation is based upon the precepts of scripture and not our own subjective approach to man made religion. I had posted a video some time back concerning the gospel but I think it is good to post it again. Dr. Moore does a wonderful job clarifying just what is the gospel. He will share with us that it is not:

1. Our good works

2. Our religious duty

3. Our own morality

4. Our own right standing

Our salvation is only found in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross where He paid the price for our sins thus appeasing the holy wrath of God so that we now have been reconciled by His blood. Three days later He was gloriously raised from the dead thus defeating death, hell and the grave! Thats the Gospel – Thats the good news! The Mormons do not teach it, the JW’s do not teach it…and apparently some very confused baptist are not teaching it…

 

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“Radical” by David Platt – A Review

I have been changed and challenged by David Platt’s book “Radical” In our church not only is our staff reading it, but we are calling our people to read it also as our staff shares it with individuals and asks them to return it when they are done so that we can continue to share it with others. It is an approach to discipleship with the end in mind of likewise challenging our folks and key leaders in our church to abandon the American dream for the glory of God and the embrace of the gospel! I have included Frank Gantz’s review of Radical for your information and with the hope that you will grab a copy and read it for yourself!

When I picked up this book to begin reading it, I half expected to glance through a book with some of the typical Christian talk about being all you can be. Instead I found myself being challenged to my core and desiring to follow Jesus like never before.

David Platt is the young pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. I have been hearing much about him and his ministry, but have not had any direct connection to his work. In Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, Platt strikingly contrasts the choice that American Christians have to make. Either we pursue the American Dream or we pursue Following Jesus. Too often we have mingled these competing visions. This union of the two naturally leans toward the American dream.

Platt does not merely provide preachy exhortation. He lays a solid foundation of the gospel and what it means to believe the gospel. In fact, if you want to understand what the gospel is, then this book is worth whatever price you might pay.

Platt also provides fantastic anecdotal accounts of the gospel being lived by people in the United States and throughout the world. At the end of the book he spells out a 5 step one-year challenge. The steps are both simple but profound. I have definitely been impacted, and believe that in a year I will be changed for the better.

Without question, this is the most moving and the best book I have read in years. To get your copy from Amazon, click on one of the titles (Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream) or on the book image above.

Pick up a copy of ‘Radical’ and be changed!

…following…

Vacation Bible School, Children, and the Gospel

I love Vacation Bible School! There, I said it! I readily admit that I am one that believes that if our church’s would have VBS every week we would experience God in a fresh new way. Of course we would…we would die from exhaustion and would be with him in the big VBS in the sky!!! Seriously though, I really do believe that VBS is an essential ministry in our church’s today and the wise Pastor will lead his church not only to participate in VBS, but he will be a part of it himself. This past week our church has been holding VBS during the evening hours. We have had a record number of children and workers and God has been so good to us by allowing us to minister to them and have a blast while doing it. VBS has changed over the years. In the past VBS was held in the morning hours, involved a minimum amount of curriculum, was taught and led by moms and ladies who were stay at home workers (the majority of the community) was heavy on crafts and was rabidly evangelistic! Today, we have kept our evangelistic edge, however the majority of schools are held in the evening due to working moms, it is theme driven, music is the driving force, decorations and thematically converting ones church into the theme of the week is the norm, and much organization and effort is required. Although the look and time of VBS has changed through the years, one thing remains the same … VBS is committed to telling children about Jesus Christ and the difference He makes in your life.

The bible expressively teaches that we are to reach out and minister to children. Jesus repeatedly spoke to the issue of childlike faith and the stewardship we have towards children. This comes form the Jewish tradition and worldview that it is the responsibility of adults and indeed parents to instill spiritual truth in their little lives. I have had well intentioned folks say to me “Are we not ‘indoctrinating’ these children?” “Should we not let them discover these things on their own?” The answer is yes and no. Yes we are indoctrinating them. We are called to indoctrinate them. God would have us to pour our doctrine and teachings into their little lives so that they may make a responsible informed decision when God begins to draw them. We are not to let them simply stumble upon truth. We are to do do all we can, any way we can, every way we can to get the truth to children and instruct them in the ways of God and His plan for their life.

6And(G) these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7(H) You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8(I) You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9(J) You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Duet 6:6-9

but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14

Now children and their world can be messy. They break things, they redesign walls, The often times push all the stress buttons and they are ALWAYS loud! However, they are joyful, fun, full of laughter and they have the ability to make us feel very young and very old all at the same time! At the end of the day, we love children and thank God for the opportunity to serve the Lord through serving them.

One thing I must stress however. When we are sharing the gospel with children, we must always be careful to share the whole gospel. It is so easy to present a watered down version of the gospel because we think children are to young to grasp or comprehend the words of Jesus. When presenting the gospel to children we must remember to teach them that salvation does not come because we raise our hand, repeat a prayer or “go down front’ with our friends. Salvation is Gods free gift to us when we respond by faith to Him in believing on His son and trusting Him and Him alone to forgive us. They must know that Jesus bore their sins on the cross. They must know that repentance and faith are necessary. They must know that when Jesus calls us to follow Him, He calls us to a life of abandonment and that we are to walk in the steps of the master all of our days. They need to know that their righteousness is that of Jesus and Jesus alone and nothing of their own merit. They need to know that the indwelling Spirit of God will transform their lives into the likeness of Christ and the life of a believer is a different life, a holy life, a life that is like Jesus! The ability to live this life comes form our understanding that we cannot live it on our own accord or effort, but that the grace of God compels us to a higher standard and that Jesus has taken on himself the punishment of when we fall short of it. In other words, they must know that being a Christ follower means following Christ. That forgiveness is not based on just a decision, but it is trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross and our relationship with God through His Son. Simply put…if we are going to teach children the gospel…teach them the whole gospel. Singing the “ABC” song will not get you to heaven…but union with Christ will!

Will they understand it you may ask? Jesus said they would…and we are to teach it to them until they are old enough to comprehend it and apply it to their own lives. Perhaps one of the reasons we are loosing 8 out 10 teenagers once they reach the age of 18 is because we have, although well intentioned, presented a half gospel to them as children. May we reclaim the simplicity and power of the gospel and teach it to young and old alike!

Read the following rendition of a familiar story and be blessed. Love your children, enjoy your children, teach your children the wonderful, life changing gospel!

Everyone in the small town by the lake was excited. Everyone was talking about Jesus, the Messiah. They had heard about the marvelous stories that He told, He taught about God’s Love, and preformed wonderful miracles. Jesus was going to Jerusalem and He was stopping here in their little town. Everyone wanted to see the miracles with their own eyes. They wanted to hear His stories first hand. Everyone wanted just to be in His presence.
When the mothers heard that Jesus was in their town they stopped their cooking. When the fathers heard, they stopped working in their fields or put down their fishing nets. A large group of parents decided to bring their children with them. They wanted Jesus to bless their children.

When they finally reached the place where Jesus was a dreadful thing happened. They could not get near Jesus! Everyone from town was there. Finally the parents and children managed to get close to Jesus, but Jesus’ disciples stopped them. “What are you doing here with all of those children?” asked a disciple. “We came in hopes that Jesus will bless our children,” replied a father. “You must go away now,” insisted the disciple. “Jesus does not have time for children. He is very busy talking with important people.” The parents sadly turned away, and started to leave.

But suddenly a gentle voice could be heard saying “DO NOT TURN THE CHILDREN AWAY.” It was the voice of Jesus. He had heard what the disciple had told the parents. Jesus heard everything even when a big crowd of people were around Him. “Bring the children to Me,” Jesus continued. The crowd moved back to let the children through to Jesus. The parents followed behind. Jesus held out His arms and hugged each one of the little children. He gently touched each one, from the youngest to the oldest child. The children made Jesus smile and laugh. “I wish everyone were like little children, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these,” Jesus said, and then He placed His hands on each child and blessed them.

(This story was inspired from the Bible Story in Matthew 19:13;
Mark 10:13-16; and Luke 18:15-17)

The Little Children and Jesus ~ Luke 18:15-17

15People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

…following…

John Piper – The Christian Life is Marked by Suffering, Not Prosperity

Dont know how Joel Osteen would respond -but I think I know how Jesus would!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

There is a move afoot in evangelical Christianity that recognizes the call of the gospel and the power of the gospel as being central to our well being as Christ followers. For years we have heard that God has a wonderful plan for our life, and although this may have some reality to it, we have certainly interpreted incorrectly. What we have said is that God has a wonderful plan for my life and that plan is that I be peaceful and happy and all the fluffy good stuff that comes with it. NOT SO! Gods plan has never changed. Gods plan is HIS PLAN. His plan is simple. We are called to make disciples of the Nations. Our convenience and well being is of no consequence. His glory and His renown are to be our only desire. A very different message that is being preached by the masses today. May God grant us the desire and the willingness to take up our cross, forsake our own life, and FOLLOW Him…no matter what…no matter where…

…following…

God’s plan versus my good intentions

This is an article I posted to our church family at FBC Garfield. Although not directly related to christian suffering, it does challenge us to rethink some of the motifs of our “Americanized” Christianity.

God has really been working in my life here of late. No, I really mean it! I am talking ministry direction type stuff. Have you ever been to a place where God has begun to show you something and you say – uh oh…I am not sure about this. Now I do not mean to imply I am fixing to pack up and go to the jungles of the Philippines or go back to seminary and pursue more education. It is nothing quite like that. Yet still, God is showing me some remarkable truths about who we are to be and how we are to be as believers. If we are to model the life of Jesus, and we are, then can we honestly look at the western church with all of her modernity and convenience and honestly say that Jesus has called us to pursue these things?, that these icons of western christianity are to be our main focus.

Now do not get me wrong, I am not about to suggest we turn off the AC and break out the sack-clothes! I am however asking some serious questions about what our focus is to be as believers. I was raised spiritually in a church growth culture. I cut my pastoral teeth on the premise that bigger is better, programs are to direct us, organization is everything and that corporate and structural improvement will be the automatic outgrowth of spiritual maturity and formation in the lives of our people. I was wrong…let me say that again…I was wrong! This kind of thinking presumes that God is obligated to bless our motives and or good intentions, no matter how noble. This is simply not the case. It has caused us in many ways to exchange the good for Gods best…in short, we have sold out cheap.

There are many things we do in the name of Christ which are well intended and born out of proper motivation, but are they beneficial and do they lead to the glory of God and the gospel being sent to the nations? David Platt, author of “Radical”, states that the only thing God will bless is His plan. He is not obligated one iota to bless that which we formulate in our mind. What does all this mean for us at FBC? I am not sure…but I know this; It is my desire to lead our church to pursue God’s plan and God’s way and not so much Gods blessing. I want to be blessed, don’t get me wrong, but I want the blessing to be from God and not my own self effort.

I pray we will order our ministry in the days to come to not so much model our good intentions and motives, yet better, to follow Gods plan. His plan is simple…MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS. The ‘Great Commission’ is not the ‘good suggestion’. It is however Gods plan for His people to literally expend themselves in obedience to this wonderful mission. May our ministry and indeed our own personal lives model and be a picture of this very thing. It may challenge many of our ‘sacred cows’ and cause us to examine much of our habitual routines…but my prayer is that it will also cause us to pursue God plan…and not simply that which we think is beneficial, no matter how well motivated we may be…

Now, let us pray…

…following…